1st Gear: The Japanese earthquake won't stop Nissan from delivering the slightly facelifted and performance upgraded 2012 GT-R. This despite a number of other Nissan and Infiniti vehicles being caught at the dock just in time to get swamped by the tsunami. Nissan spokesperson Rich Latek, however, has confirmed to Automotive News that all 620 dealers expected to get their allotment of GT-Rs will get them.
2nd Gear: Speaking of Japanese automakers, we're told that in the first two weeks after the March 11 earthquake and tsunami, they've lost about 65% of light vehicle production, according to industry consultant IHS Automotive Insight in a report on Monday. That means that through Friday, they've lost 338,000 units of production. Toyota and Honda production hasn't restarted yet thanks to parts supply problems.
3rd Gear: The now annual tradition of Corvette Product Marketing Manager Harlan Charles and Chief Engineer Tadge Juechter heading down to Sebring to talk about the latest updates on the 2011 Corvette as well as issue their usual "no comment" on the C7 Corvette occurred once more this past weekend. Sadly, Juechter was a bit more tight-lipped than last year so, sadly, there wasn't any of his usual power-to-the-people buff book pugilism. Still, one minor swipe made by Juechter and Charles was against Car & Driver's speculative rendering on the cover of last month's April issue (yes, that's correct) which "missed the mark." Click the video to see the full remarks.
4th Gear: According to a report in German car mag Auto Bild, Audi's forthcoming flagship model — expected to be called the A9 — will be a massive two-door coupe and convertible. The two-door extension of the A8 range would be positioned midway between the BMW 6 Series and the Mercedes CL and would be heading to production by 2014.
5th Gear: Manganese Bronze, the manufacturers of the TX4 London taxi, and its Chinese partner Geely Automotive, have announced a $28 million deal to sell 1000 of the distinctive cabs to Azerbaijan. So far this year, orders for cabs have come from customers in France, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.
6th Gear: A US warplane has crashed in Libya during a third night of air strikes against Col Gaddafi forces, US military spokesman Kenneth Fiddler told the BBC. According to the spokesman there was no indication the F-15E Eagle had been brought down by hostile fire. Both crew members ejected safely after what was believed to be a mechanical failure. Here are the first pictures of the crash.
⏎ Infiniti is heading to the land down under in September, 2012. [GoAuto]
⏎ How to weld a roll cage. [Popular Mechanics]
⏎ The making of the Presidential Limo, a Pinewood Derby Saga. [Automobile]
⏎ Edmunds InsideLine finally dyno's a new 2011 Dodge Charger R/T. God, they're such slackers. [Edmunds InsideLine]
⏎ Mazda3 snags top safety pick award from IIHS. [IIHS]
⏎ Honda R&D chief Tomohiko Kawanabe has confirmed that the firm is working on a high-performance CR-Z hybrid. [AutoCar]
⏎ Tony Cervone, former next-in-line-to-the-PR-throne at GM, has been appointed president of communications for Volkswagen of America. [Automotive News]
Today in Automotive History:
On this day in 1983, the Pentagon awards a production contract worth more than $1 billion to AM General Corporation to develop 55,000 High Mobility Multipurpose Wheeled Vehicles (HMMWV). Nicknamed the Humvee and designed to transport troops and cargo, the wide, rugged vehicles entered the spotlight when they were used by the American military during the 1989 invasion of Panama and the Persian Gulf War in the early 1990s. [History]
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